Define “Duty to Look Out”

UPDATED: May 15, 2009

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Define “Duty to Look Out”

Is there a universal accepted definition of “Duty to Look Out”? If there is, what is that definition? If there is not, what are the differences in the definitions used?

Asked on May 15, 2009 under Accident Law, Colorado


L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

The duty to look out or duty of lookout is a  widely used term by most states, and generally means that drivers are to keep a reasonable lookout for other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and people in wheelchairs.  If you look but fail to see something plainly visible to the average person, you are negligent and therefore may be held liable for an accident which occurs as a result.  In some states the term "proper lookout" is used and that requires a driver to see what a person exercising ordinary care and caution would see under similar circumstances, and to take those steps necessary to guard against an accident.  Simply stated, "proper lookout" requires a driver to pay attention to the road and other drivers in an effort to avoid accidents.  Failure to observe the proper lookout is legal negligence.  Some states make lookout part of a general duty of care. To meet this standard or duty of care, drivers must: Operate the vehicle at a reasonable rate of speed, Keep the vehicle under proper control and Look out for all situations that could cause an accident.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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